By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Rounding out their regular season at 11-2 (6-1 Oakland Activities Association White Division), the Oxford Avondale United (OAU) hockey program captured the division title, finishing one game ahead of the Bloomfield Hills Black Hawks (6-6, 4-2) in the loss column in the league standings.
Third-year head coach Derek Billis and his assistants, Ed Paquette and Chris Poplars, have done a tremendous job in their rebuilding of the program, as OAU matched their win total from the previous two seasons combined, despite 2020-21 being an abbreviated campaign.
Featuring 12 seniors on their roster of 23 young men, most of whom were on the team during the trying times of the last two years, this experience paid dividends, as the program scored 80 goals in their 13 games, 22 more than any other OAA White team, and held their opponents to just 45.
The program’s final regular season action ended up being a pair of games with Lowell/Caledonia and the Walled Lake Northern Knights on March 6, which they split, dropping the former and winning the latter.
Their final three regular season contests, including the Monday, March 8 date with the Lapeer Lightning at the Detroit Skating Club, which was scheduled to serve as Senior Night, were canceled due to positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests.
Placed in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Regional No. 5, OAU, pending the results of COVID-19 testing on Monday, March 15, began postseason play on Tuesday, March 16 against the Grand Blanc Bobcats at 5 p.m. at the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Athletic Complex, 3535 Indian Trail, Orchard Lake.
The winner of the OAU-Grand Blanc clash will advance to face the Brighton Bulldogs, the region’s No. 1 seed, in the semifinals on Thursday, March 18, also at 5 p.m.
Walled Lake Central-Waterford United (WLCWU) battled the host Eaglets in the other Regional No. 5 quarterfinal, with the No. 2 seed, the Howell Highlanders, awaiting the winner on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
2020-21 OAU regular season statistics
Sr. Cameron Paquette: 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists)
Sr. Nathan Poplars: 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists)
Sr. Jake Billis: 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists)
Jr. Ben Hepp: 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists)
Sr. Brendan Vogler: 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists)
Sr. Connor Vittetoe: 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists)
Sr. Ryan Honig: 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists)
So. Alex Palombit: 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists)
Jr. Freddie Fresard: 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists)
Jr. Coen Hao: 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists)
Sr. Aiden Finnerty: 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists)
Jr. Brian Budde: 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist)
Sr. Josh Mae: 2 points (2 assists)
So. Garrett Brinker: 1 point (assist)
So. Ethan Felax: 1 point (goal)
Fr. Christian Fresard: 1 point (assist)
So. Ethan O’Dowd: 1 point (assist)
Jr. Isaac Shellswell: 1 point (goal)
Sr. Kyle Vogler: 1 point (assist)